In recent years, we’ve all become more familiar with the idea of invasive species.

Plants and animals as varied as giant hogweed, the mink and oak processionary moths regularly make headlines because of the health, environmental and economic problems they cause. Invasive deer contribute to more than 74,000 traffic accidents in the UK every year, while Japanese knotweed added £70m to the bill for staging the London Olympics, and could soon stop you getting a mortgage on your house.

These invasive species destroy crops and forestry, dump silt into rivers, sabotage drains and electrical infrastructure, cut off access to beautiful places and drive native rare and iconic species to extinction.

And they cost us all a lot of money – at least £1.8bn to the UK economy each year.

How can you help stop this expensive, dangerous (and ultimately boring) slide towards global blandification? Read this book and then roll up your sleeves!

•    Over 40 different species featured

•    List of actions you can take

•    Useful contact list for those getting involved 

The above spiel from the publishers gives you a pretty good idea of what to expect from this pocket-sized offering from environmental and angling writer, Theo Pike,

The book, spiral bound and in 150 x 115mm format, is indeed a ‘pocket’ guide and perfect for slipping into a coat pocket, rucksack or tackle bag and being to hand when needed and it is the perfect quick reference guide to the many alien species that are out there in our environment. And, as soon as you flick through the book, you quickly realise ‘just’ how many there are and the problems they cause. I consider myself to be reasonably well-informed environmentally but this was a real eye opener American Skunk Cabbage, Tree-of-Heaven, Spanish Bluebell…Who knew? Not me for sure!

As anglers we are all well aware of the problems caused by the likes of species such as Himalayan balsam, signal crayfish, mink, mitten crabs and the like but this little gem of a guide opens up many more causes of concern, not all of them angling related but many of them likely to be encountered by anglers in the field. The species are covered in detail with sound information on their origin, the nature of the problems they can cause and, most importantly what we all can do about them in terms of reporting and control.

Given the size of the book there is not sufficient space to give detailed information concerning all aspects of taxonomy, identification and control but there are clear links as to where you need to go to find that information. In addition there is detailed information on how to obtain help and legal advice, on health and safety and on volunteer projects.

Empowering people to engage with and protect their environment at grassroots level is a tall order but Theo achieves it in an easy-to-read format and this is a book that should not just be in the pocket of every angler but also every gardener, rambler, birder…

It may be pocket-sized but this is a giant first step in getting the public to fight back and take responsibility for their environment.

Published by Merlin Unwin ISBN: 978 1 906122 62 1 with 96 pages and 169 colour photographs and a price of £7.99 The Pocket Guide to Balsam Bashing and how to tackle other Invasive Non-Native Species is available HERE

If you would like to meet Theo, and get your hands on a signed copy of the book, he will be at Farlows from 11.30 until 19.00 on 08 May with details HERE




Theo is a freelance marketing, fly-fishing and environmental writer. He’s also Chairman of Trustees of the Wandle Trust, and founding editor of a website and eco-brand dedicated to urban fly-fishing and river restoration improvements.

Theo’s trailblazing first book Trout in Dirty Places: 50 rivers to fly-fish for trout and grayling in the UK’s town and city centres was published by Merlin Unwin Books in 2012.